News / USA

Midterm Elections Post High Stakes for Obama

Multimedia

Audio

President Barack Obama is spending an increasing amount of time campaigning and raising money for Democratic congressional candidates in the run-up to the November midterm elections.  The president wants to do all he can to limit Democratic losses this year, well aware that an erosion of the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate will have enormous political implications for his ability to govern over the next two years.

History says that the party that controls the White House usually loses congressional seats in a new president's first midterm election.  Combine that with a struggling national economy and you have the recipe for electoral trouble this November for Democrats.

With that in mind, President Obama has embarked on campaign swings aimed at helping out Democratic congressional candidates around the country.  But everywhere Mr. Obama goes he has to confront the public's fears about a national economy that seems to be recovering - if at all - in fits and starts.

"Slowly but surely we are moving in the right direction," said Obama.  "We are on the right track.  The economy is getting stronger, but it really suffered a big trauma and we are not going to get all eight million jobs that were lost back overnight."

The public's frustration with the pace of economic recovery is told almost daily in opinion polls.  A recent Associated Press poll found that only 41 percent of those surveyed approve of the president's handling of the economy, and 61 percent said they thought the economy had either gotten worse or stayed the same during Mr. Obama's time in office.

The main problem is the high unemployment rate, now at 9.5 percent nationally, says Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown.  "Voters are very unhappy about the economy.  When you say the economy, what they are really talking about is unemployment because unemployment is what matters to voters."

Unhappiness over jobs and the economy is fueling a Republican comeback in the polls this year, with the opposition hoping to reclaim control of one or both houses of Congress that they lost in 2006.

House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio would likely become Speaker of the House if Republicans can gain at least 39 congressional seats in November.

"After promising so much and delivering so little, the Democrats have lost the support of the American people and the credibility to govern," said Boehner.

Mr. Obama came into office in 2008 in large part because of discontent over the economy and a desire for change after eight years of Republican President George W. Bush.  Political experts say this year's congressional elections will be in part a referendum on President Obama's handling of the economy.

University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said, "The election is about the economy.  We have seen a parade of other issues that are really not going to matter as much as people think they are going to matter.  The BP oil spill, immigration, gay marriage, all of these things are interesting and they are controversial, but the black hole of this election year is the economy, the rotten economy, the high unemployment rate.  That is what is hurting Democrats."

In recent days, the president has been warning voters that Republicans have no plan to deal with the country's economic challenges and that they would return to the economic approach of the Bush administration.

Larry Sabato says he expects many Democratic candidates to continue to blame Republicans for the current economic woes, but he says many voters will be skeptical.

"It is a good tactic, but the problem is that by two years into the (presidential) term, voters naturally hold the incumbent president and his party accountable for what has happened.  You run out of options in the blame game," said Sabato.

There are other political factors that seem to be working against the Democrats and the president this year.  Conservatives are energized, Democrats appear lethargic and independent voters, who were an important part of Mr. Obama's election coalition in 2008, seem to be deserting the president in droves, said analyst Charlie Cook.

"And so it is a matter of swing (independent) voters that had swung for Democrats in the two previous elections now swinging over to Republicans, and then the Democratic base being demoralized or unenthusiastic, and conservatives and Republicans very energized and likely to turn out in bigger numbers," said Cook.

Not all Democrats will want the president to campaign for them this year, especially in states and congressional districts where Mr. Obama is unpopular.  Most Democrats, though, will welcome any financial help they can get from the president in the form of campaign fundraising, says Georgetown University expert Stephen Wayne.

"Number one, raise money for Democrats who may be challenged or targeted by Republicans, and President Obama still has great appeal among Democrats and is a great money raiser," said Wayne.

Analysts say a Republican takeover of one or both houses of Congress would severely curtail the president's ability to get his domestic agenda passed by lawmakers over the next two years, and could put him at a political disadvantage as he looks ahead to his own re-election challenge in 2012.


You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid counter-terror intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid